Washington: The US on Thursday did not rule out a visit to the White House by Cuban President Raul Castro, arguing that President Barack Obama has visited countries like China and Myanmar and invited their leaders to America, despite having serious human rights concerns about them.
"The President has had the leaders of both Burma and China to the United States. And for that reason, I wouldn't rule out a visit from President Castro," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters, a day after Obama announced a historic resumption of diplomatic ties with Cuba.
"I don't know that Mr Castro has necessarily indicated the desire to travel to the United States and visit the White House," he said in response to a question.
"Considering that the analogy that we tried to draw or at least identify is that there are important national security reasons for the President to travel to other countries that have what we would describe at best as chequered human rights records," he said.
"The President did travel recently to both China and Burma (Myanmar). These are countries where the President has urged the leadership of those countries to do a better job of respecting universal human rights," he said.
Earnest said Obama travelled to those countries, both because he believed it is in US national security interest, but also because he viewed it as an important opportunity to raise concerns about those nations' humans right records, that having an open relationship in which the president engages with the leaders of other countries can actually serve as a useful way to shine a spotlight on the shortcomings of other countries' records as it relates to human rights.
"He did that when he was in China. He did that when he was standing next to the Chinese President," Earnest said.